Airware (www.airware.com) offers complete enterprise drone solutions which enable businesses to improve operational efficiency, enhance worker safety, and capture and analyze high-resolution data to improve decision-making. I sat down with Rene Lauzon, Vice President of Operations for Airware, to discuss what Pure Storage® means for his business.
JM: Rene, drones are a hot topic these days, but we don’t hear much about commercial applications. How is Airware shaping this new market?
RL: The founders of Airware saw an opening in the market between military drones, which are too expensive and inflexible, and those used by hobbyists, which are not sufficiently safe or reliable. We expect a growing number of commercial applications will emerge from the collection, analysis and application of aerial information.
JM: What are some examples?
RL: We target applications that require assets to be viewed aerially – like power lines, cell towers and oil rigs – which reduces the danger of dispatching people to perform high-risk tasks. A good example is in insurance; a claims adjuster can use a drone to examine a damaged roof, instead of scaling a ladder onto the roof and examining it by hand.
JM: What’s your competitive advantage?
RL: Our key advantage is the ability to collect and manage large amounts of aerial data that can be easily delivered to and distilled by our customers for use in daily business operations. Drones offer significant benefits, but only if they are operated intelligently – which is what we do. We also have an advantage in our ability to quickly adapt and upgrade our technology to meet a wide variety of customer needs.
JM: So, what’s the link between storage and business value for Airware?
RL: Storage is a very important component of our operation, for two reasons. First, we provide customers a value-added set of data, so our storage arrays safeguard our most valuable assets. Second, most of our employees are software developers, and they are critical to delivering the advanced services our customers demand. A high-performance, flexible storage infrastructure is not only essential for developers to do their job, it plays a key role in accelerating our time-to-market. This is essential to maintaining competitive advantage in a fast growing market like ours.
JM: Does your storage meet those two criteria?
RL: It does now, thanks to our wide-scale deployment of flash storage.
JM: How has it made a difference?
RL: Because our software developers are critical to our growth, anything we can do to make them more efficient pays off, because then we can offer new services to customers faster – while keeping our costs in line. The speed, flexibility and efficiency of Pure storage directly contribute to developer productivity.
JM: How so?
RM: We used to see developers waiting for their builds to complete, or their regression tests to finish. These are important routine tasks that, cumulatively, can sap a lot of productivity if they take too much time. When we were evaluating Pure, we calculated that if we could reduce wait times the result would be the equivalent of an extra headcount.
JM: And is that what happened?
RL: Actually, no. When we looked at the numbers over time, the impact was 10 times as great. So instead of gaining one headcount, we gained the equivalent of an added group of developers for free. It exceeded our most optimistic expectations.
JM: What has that meant for your business?
RL: In addition to making our software developers significantly more productive, flash storage has a positive impact on the IT department. Because Pure is so easy to use, it means we spend virtually no time managing storage. That’s a huge change from what life was like with spinning disks, which demanded a ton of administrative time and attention.
JM: And that allows you to spend more time on your beautiful BMW motorcycle?
RL: As a matter of fact, it does.